Biting Your Nails and Emergencies

Nail biting may seem like a relatively small bad habit. But, it can actually cause a lot of damage. You may think: it can only hurt my nails, right? Not entirely. Biting your nails can lead to many dental problems. In addition, biting your nails may even cause a dental emergency. 

If you bite your nails, you are not alone. According to UCLA, at least 30% of US adults bite their nails. It is a common habit that often arises from stress, anxiety, or boredom. Luckily, there are ways that you can break the habit. Otherwise, you may suffer from some surprising oral health implications. 

Biting Your Nails and Emergencies

Wearing Down Teeth

Nail biters often use their teeth to tear or trim their nails. Unfortunately, this places undue stress on their teeth. You may not realize the damage you are doing to your teeth until much later. Over time, you can actually wear down your teeth. Using your teeth as tools (biting your nails) can speed up the process of erosion. As we age, our teeth naturally wear away and lose part of our enamel. However, biting your nails can damage the enamel much faster.

As a result, your enamel won’t protect your teeth as effectively. This can make your teeth more vulnerable to decay or sensitivity. Additionally, the excessive force from nail biting can lead to a fracture, which may need immediate repair. 

Gum Trauma

While biting your nails can damage your teeth, the effects can expand to the soft tissues of your gums. When biting your nails, your fingers may slip, causing a cut or injury to your gums. Additionally, nail biting can traumatize the delicate tissues of your gums. This can create inflammation and potential infections. Inflammation of the gums can lead to gum disease.

Another issue that you may see with your gums is recession. Repeated trauma from nail biting can lead to gum recession. This occurs when your gums begin to pull away from the teeth. As the gums recede, it exposes the tooth roots. Unfortunately, this can lead to sensitivity and tooth decay. 

Potential for Infections

When you bite your nails, you transfer external bacteria to your mouth. This foreign bacteria can make you sick or ill. Think about all of the bacteria and viruses that are living on public surfaces. Biting your nails brings that bacteria into your mouth, increasing your risk of infection or illness. It may even lead to an abscess that needs immediate attention

Breaking the Cycle

There are ways that you can stop biting your nails. The first step is to become aware of the habit. In addition, you should recognize what causes you to bite your nails. Stress and anxiety can be huge triggers for people. 

As a result, you can find healthier coping mechanisms. You may try to replace your nail biting with activities that keep your hands occupied. Many objects like stress balls or fidget toys can redirect your attention. Also, you should discuss your habit with your dentist.